Following up her vigorous second release Blood Like Wine set the bar high for Angie and the Deserters. The rough and tumble, but deeply felt, sensibilities guiding that release landed in the indie music community like a bomb exploding for many, clearing the scene of pretenders and peers alike. Angie Bruyere’s vocal presence is defining – her voice increasingly explores a full range of human emotion and experience. Her voice can soothe, claw at the ear, deafen, and energize listeners with its dramatic capacity for capturing your attention. It all comes honestly. She doesn’t achieve this effect on the listener through empty histrionics and her performances never overwhelm the arrangement; instead, they either move along similar lines or work in counterpointed sympathy with one another. The six songs on her latest EP You show the same passion as the earlier release, but her work has gained added nuance in an astonishingly short amount of time and these half dozen new tracks illustrate the next logical stage in her development as an artist.
The deeper sensitivity is apparent on the first song. “Stay” incorporates classic country/Americana instrumentation into the arrangement and depends on a certain amount of familiarity from its audience with the inclusion of some key stylistic touches and tropes drawn from the genre’s tradition. Even if this is solidly a ballad, Angie never panders to her listeners with false notes and empty dramatics. Instead, she glides, suffers, and soars through the song and takes anyone paying attention on a short but remarkable ride. The EP’s second track “Forgetting to Forget” is a stirring re-envisioning of traditional country songwriting given a little rugged outlaw edge. The narrators and situations in Angie Bruyere’s songwriting world are invariably driven by passion, longing, and heartache that sometimes drives them to desperation. Those emotions, however, express themselves at varying amplitudes and Bruyere’s stylish grief here beautifully implies deeper hurts within.
Such will surprise a few listeners, undoubtedly, with the EP’s playful attitude towards tempo on the title track. “You” is an imaginative waltz variant that has an appealing theatrical quality and plays as ideally tailored for Bruyere’s emotive talents. It isn’t stagy at all and the alternative time signature gives the band a very low-key way of showing off their musical chops. “17 Days” is powered by a rootsy stomp that never taxes the listener’s patience thanks to the focus driving the arrangement and lyrics alike. Bruyere takes on a much more relaxed vocal air here as the song requires a different amount of force than arguably subtler songs like the preceding title track. The electric guitar has a much harder edge on the dread-soaked “When the Nighttime Comes”, but there’s a soft melodic underbelly thanks to the mandolin and acoustic guitar underlying the powerful fills. Bruyere takes a deliberate, pensive approach to the lyrics that helps enhance its moody outlook. Songs like this help solidify Bruyere’s claim on being among the most vital young performers in the Americana genre today with knockout vocal power and steadily growing songwriting powers.
9 out of 10 stars.